Proverbs in 365 Devotions
Proverbs 11:15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm, but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure.
God's Promises Are Secure
One can put up security for another in various ways. One way is in the words we speak. You might stand up for your friend Joe who is interviewing for a job. The interviewer calls you and ask for a reference. “Joe is good and honest” you say; “he is hard working… just the other day Joe worked all day without a break helping me repair a fence for a friend. You will not be sorry if you hire him...” In this case, you are putting up your personal word as security for Joe’s character.
However, if Joe was someone you had only met and didn’t have a history with, it would be stupid for you to give your word as security for Joe’s moral disposition. Your words could come back and damage your own character. What you said about Joe would get around town and your word would loose credibility.
Using money as an example, a poor believer should apparently not co-sign for a stranger on a loan not knowing the history of their integrity. If the stranger fails to fulfill their obligation the payment would fall back to the co-signer. If the believer is not well off it could cause them to default on commitments of their own thus giving them a bad name.
All this being said, now let’s look at what this text is not saying. I don’t want us to misinterpret it by isolating it from the context of the rest of the bible. It is not saying we should not be generous… even to our own hurt, but rather in joy give all the while trusting God.
As believers, it is our utmost goal that the name and character of Christ not be defamed by our actions; so we must be discerning. But yes, still, we are called and he makes us able to give and bless others in the name of Christ even if we are excessively poor.
Speaking of the believers in Macedonia Paul writes:
2nd Corinthians 8:2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
Lets re-read our Proverbs 11:15:
Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm, but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure.
Again, not to misinterpret, I don’t think our text is negating the following situation. See what you think... Let’s say a believer who is well off co-signs a loan for a stranger trying to help them in a very tough situation. Sure, they could have given the money to them with no problem. However, guaranteeing a loan was an attempt to not only help their need but also help them be responsible and grow in accountability. In today’s society, if that person defaults on the loan the believers character is not harmed… he would just go pay it off… but rather his generosity in the name of Christ would glorify God.
You know, we cannot truly guarantee another persons character whether they are a good friend or a stranger. About the only think we do know is that man is broken by sin and even a believer is not perfect practically in the flesh. However, we are 100% sure about the good character of our Lord. Every word we speak, every deed we do, is to point to his righteousness, his identity, how he fulfills every promise… how he is trustworthy, honest, dependable, honorable, upright… How he never defaults on his word.
Let all that we do be done to the praise of his glory and the grace he gives through his Son Jesus Christ.
And we mustn't forget to be about our new mission in him and how he backs us up with his promises ...
2nd Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.